On gardens.

Yup. Gardens. It’s mid-March, there’s still at least 10 inches of snow on our yard, and I’ve been pondering garden thoughts for some weeks now. Now, before we wander off down the paths of my mind, let me remind you that I’m by no means what any sane person would call a gardener. But I am learning, and we have plans that will help me learn more.

I don’t recall if I talked last year at all about the plans for the front yard when we pulled out all the bushes, so bear with me if this is old news. Basically, there’s no real grass in the front yard – it’s all weeds and dirt with just enough of a smattering of actually grass-like substance to require us to mow it. We find this annoying (really, Jack finds this annoying since he ends up mowing more often than I do) and decided that it would be just lovely if instead of a front lawn, we had instead a nice little garden area there. Something that is mostly perennials, with maybe room for an annual or two as the mood strikes us.

So this past weekend we met with two greenthumb-enabled friends – who themselves have an absolutely beautiful and self-sustaining garden for their front lawn – to plan what to put in there. There were some rules – for instance, given that we just tore out several monstrous evergreen shrubs that were as tall as the first story of the house, we didn’t want any bushes that would get unmanageably tall or dense. We also didn’t want it so dense that it was just a patch of vegetation with no rhyme or reason. Finally, we wanted it to “flow” or “transition” well visually into the grass of our neighbor’s lawn, without threatening to overtake said grass.

After flipping through lots of catalogs and books, we decided on the following to fill the approximately 15 foot square space:
*Closest to the porch, where the old bushes used to be, we’ll plant three weigela bushes. The two on the ends will be of the Wine & Roses variety, and the middle one is Variegated.
* In front of the weigela bushes, from the left to the right if you’re standing on the sidewalk in front of the house, sort of on either side of the Variegated weigela (which is bigger than the other two), will be some mixed foxglove.
* The front left corner will be a combination of Bright Lights Cosmos, a smidge of Evergreen Vinca, and a fronting of either sapphire blue or white delight creeping phlox.
* The rough center of the patch, in front of the variegated weigela and between the two patches of foxglove, will be a Blue Star Sea Holly.
* By the sidewalk to the porch, from the corner of the porch to the main sidewalk, will be a patch of Ipomopsis Hummingbird Mix, with more of the phlox in front of it, then some more of the evergreen vinca and another corner of the phlox. Tucked in behind the phlox and to the front right of the Sea Holly is a small patch of Balloonflowers.

In terms of height, it will be shorter as you work toward the front corners and sides, and we’re pretty sure that we’ll have something blooming most of the summer. The weigela and ipomopsis are both attractive to hummingbirds, which will work well considering I have a hummingbird feeder on the porch.

I ordered all the plants today (they won’t ship until they’re ready to go in the ground – likely the last week of April or the first week of May). We’ll need to rent a sod cutter to get rid of the weeds and such that are currently in the yard, and put down some gardeners cloth and edging to keep things from getting too invasive where they shouldn’t be, but I’m hoping that by mid-May the front lawn will be more or less set.

We also planned a rather extensive vegetable garden – 3 different types of tomatoes, blue potatoes, sweet potatoes, french radishes, purple carrots, garlic, chives, watermelon radishes, three kinds of peppers, three kinds of basil, and Walla Walla Sweet onions – that will go into raised beds that my dad’s coming to help me build the second week in May. Oh, and a couple different kinds of squash, but we’re going to train those up the fence in the back yard. At least half of the crop from the veggie garden will go to the friends who are helping us with the planning (they’re also going to come help get things in the ground and teach me what I need to know to maintain and care for everything), but I still expect that I’ll have more than my share of fresh veggies this year.

The raised beds will run the length of the yard where we took out the bushes-gone-wild last year, with a space between them that will have a smaller raised bed where I can plant something that will vine – maybe clematis or trumpet vine? – and an arbor over a sitting area across from the apple tree in the side yard. I might also try to plant a row of sunflowers on the street side to give a little privacy screen, but I haven’t decided on that yet. I’ll be ordering the plants and seeds for the veggies in a week or two, once I have a chance to confirm with dad that we really can make the beds as large as we planned.

So now that the plans are done, we wait. Fortunately, I know the time will just fly! Dad’s coming down next week to help us rip out and remodel the upstairs bathroom and we’re trying to pick out paint colors for the dining room to get at least one of the interior rooms painted something other than white before summer hits, so between that and work, I’m sure it’ll be planting time before I know it. Yea!

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